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Squamish hotel tax moves closer to law

Revenue could help in competitive corridor marketing



Tourism Squamish (TS) has the political go-ahead in drafting an additional hotel tax bylaw, a move that could help the arms-length organization fund a marketing plan designed to promote Squamish as a base camp destination in the Sea to Sky corridor.

“Moving forward, we’ll be going around one more time to talk to the proprietors that have not signed on,” said TS director Leslie Weeks during last Tuesday’s council strategy session.

While support of only 51 per cent of affected properties and 51 per cent of total units is required to enact the tax, Weeks and her colleagues have secured 60 per cent of total units and 55 per cent of total properties in Squamish.

If approved, the bylaw will levy an additional two per cent tax on the pre-existing eight per cent hotel room tax collected by the province. The province will continue to collect the monies, then remit it to the district, who in turn will funnel it to TS. The tourism body must then apply the dollars to marketing or the financing and operation of tourist facilities.

According to Weeks’s presentation, the tax could generate as much as $269,000 a year, once hotels in various stages of proposal come on stream. Up to now, TS has been funded through grant money.

Should the bylaw ascend, TS’s advisory board will determine how best to spend the money within the framework set out by the province. Composed of local tourism industry representatives, the board has two-year terms. There are 13 seats on the board.

There are 11 hotels in Squamish.

The base camp marketing strategy emerged earlier this year. Rather than compete with Whistler or Vancouver, the strategy is to offer tourists something different.

“There’s a lot of effort right now to market the Lower Mainland and let them know we’re only 45 minutes north of Vancouver,” said Weeks in a previous interview with Pique Newsmagazine . “You can play in Squamish and stay in Squamish, but also go see Whistler.”